LEWISTON, NY – It is unequivocally amazing how instantaneously a collegiate hockey game can sometimes change.
Suddenly, a razor close game between host Niagara and Holy Cross had turned dramatically – and in lightning quick fashion – thanks mainly to Crusaders junior TJ Moore’s hat trick.
That was certainly what transpired in Holy Cross’ 8-2 victory at Dwyer Arena on Friday evening, as the Purple Eagles fell apart technically, and paid dearly for it. The Crusaders capitalized during a 33-second, second period blitzkrieg. When the proverbial dust settled, a tight 2-2 game disintegrated into a one-sided affair.
During the onslaught, Holy Cross used its speed in a four-on-four situation, its collective skill on the rush and some shabby defensive work by Niagara and the game changed and was never the same.
“It was a combination,” confirmed Moore, who also had two assists. “We got a few good bounces with a lot of space out there, and we made it work for ourselves by using our speed, and getting the puck to the net.”
The three goal outburst was a school-record for Holy Cross, which eventually cruised to an 8-2 triumph.
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder acknowledged that speed and skill were the catalysts to the explosion.
“They are a really good team in transition, and obviously we knew that going in.,” he said. “They are going to kill you on the rush, and we had a couple of bad turnovers. And, we didn’t get a save, there were a couple of short side goals that are unacceptable. It just happened so quick, it was the difference in the game.”
“You can’t take penalties how we did, and when we did, and win at this level.”
Moore, who led the Crusaders in scoring last season with 15 goals and 28 points, started the assault with his second goal of the game at 12:21 of the second period when we whistled a shot over Niagara goaltender Jackson Teichroeb’s right shoulder for a 3-2 lead.
“It was another good play by my linemates,” Moore said. “I just shot the puck through a screen and it wound up going in.”
After Ryan Ferrill scored just 11 seconds later for a 4-2 advantage, Moore essentially ended the game when he sped in and lifted a backhander over Teichroeb, and all of a sudden it was 5-2 Holy Cross at the 12:54 mark.
Earlier, Moore tied the game 1-1 late in the first period when he swiped in a rebound after Mike Barrett’s initial shot was stopped by Teichroeb. The puck hit the goalpost and slid right out to Moore, who was in the right place at the right time.
Following the game, Moore was wrapped in an ice pack on his lower back, and deliberately steered conversation away from his personal accomplishments and focused on his teammates.
“Our team is really confident right now and that is what it is really all about,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who gets the points around here. That’s why we love playing with each other, because we have a good group of guys in the locker room. It is good to get our first win in this fashion, and we want to pick up another one tomorrow and move along with our schedule.”
ATLANTIC HOCKEY RESULTS
Robert Morris at RIT
Rochester Institute of Technology rode a three-goal spurt in just under 10 minutes in the second period to defeat Robert Morris 6-3. Gabe Valenzeula led the Tigers with a goal and two assists while Timmy Moore scored twice for the Colonials.
Sacred Heart at Army
Taylor Maruya had three assists to lead Army to a 4-0 victory over Sacred Heart. Parker Gahagen recorded 33 saves for the Black Knights, who were outshot 33-23.
Canisius at North Dakota
Six different players scored for No. 1 North Dakota in a 6-0 victory over Canisius. Simon Hofley stopped 29 shots and played all 60 minutes between the pipes for the Golden Griffins.